Lázár: Hungary ‘Honoured’ To Be UK’s Partner In EU

  • 24 Jun 2016 9:00 AM
Lázár: Hungary ‘Honoured’ To Be UK’s Partner In EU
British voters have the right to express their views on their country’s European Union membership, but Hungary wants to make clear that it is “honoured” to be Britain’s partner in the bloc, government office chief János Lázár said at a regular news briefing. Lázár said the government will discuss and assess the UK’s referendum on EU membership in detail at a cabinet meeting on Friday.

Given that it appears the vote is on a knife edge, the minority view cannot be disregarded. No matter what the Brits decide, the vote will influence the future of the EU, he added. Asked if Hungary would also move to leave the EU in the case of Brexit, he said the issue was unlikely to come up in Hungary. Asked whether he would vote to remain or leave, he said it was a “tough question”.

Friday’s cabinet meeting will also focus on major investments, he noted. On the topic of new buses for Budapest, Lázár said István Tarlós, the mayor, would not be at a cabinet meeting on Friday, and the government would not meet again until July 5.

“Tomorrow, Mayor István Tarlós will not participate at the cabinet meeting. We cannot discuss in earnest questions of public transport in Budapest,” Lázár said. The local council decided earlier that it would buy Polish-made Solaris buses if the government fails to take a decision on the matter by the deadline.

The council postponed a vote to buy Solaris buses in May because of a government decision to implement a national strategy for bus production. In reaction to Lázár’s remarks, the local council said deputy-mayor Gábor Bagdy had been mandated by Tarlós, in writing, to stand in for him at Friday’s cabinet meeting. Lázár said the cabinet wanted to speak with Tarlós in person and would not make a decision without him. The cabinet will also discuss a strike staged recently by local government employees, Lázár said.

The government is ready to sit down for talks with local council employees and trade unions. The government does not question that many local council employees’ wage demands are reasonable but the real issue concerns where the necessary resources can be found. Asked whether the government is planning to change its position on Hungary’s GMO-free status, he said Farm Minister Sandor Fazekas is a firm supporter of staying GMO-free.

Lázár also said the government accepted the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in connection with the former head of the Supreme Court but disagreed with it. The European court earlier today ruled in favour of Hungary’s former supreme court president András Baka, declaring that the Hungarian authorities had wrongly terminated his mandate before it expired back in 2011. Lázár said the government maintains the view that Baka’s human rights had not been violated.

He said the court decision concerned only one person and did not impugn Hungarian democracy as a whole. Baka will be paid compensation in line with the court ruling by the deadline, he added. In response to a question, Lázár said he was unaware of a recording that press reports linked to businessman Zoltán Spéder, adding that he had not seen a police statement that would prove the existence of such a recording.

The opposition Socialist Party has demanded that the authorities release telephone recordings made by Spéder, head of FHB Bank, which reportedly contain conversations between Spéder, the subject of a criminal investigation, and leading ruling Fidesz party politicians.

The Socialists called Lázár to clarify what interests he personally had in FHB and whether this bank is indeed “the private bank of Zoltán Spéder”. According to press reports, the prime minister, the cabinet chief and the government office chief appear on the recordings made by Spéder, a business partner of Lajos Simicska, a one-time friend of the prime minister’s.

Republished with permission of Hungary Matters, MTI’s daily newsletter.

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